I can't for the life of me remember if I gave Oskar's mother a name. Well, it's now Agnes. Also, I find myself swaying to present tense after writing in it so much lately, haha. Apologies if it isn't past! Goodness, I'm excited for what is to come for you guys! I have had this idea for so long and can finally execute it but of course, things have to happen for it to occur and the seed is planted this chapter!
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biancalb [chapter 81]: Thank you so much! I always felt dissatisfied with Reign so had to do their dream and bring it into a reality as you said for my peace of mind and everyone else's. Yeah, it was crazy! Apparently, the last ever King of France, Louis married Marie Antoinette when they were 12/13. I was surprised but wanted it to be realistic for those times, it is crazy, haha. :)
FeliLuna13 [chapter 81]: I am! Glad I did! :)
"So," the Swedish Queen Mother began at the family breakfast the next morning. "Should we expect a little heir apparent for Sweden in the future?"
Mary flushed, her husband's eyes widening beside her. "I-"
"Well, we will see," Anne said politely, meeting her husband's eyes mischievously, making her parents blush even more at the mere thought of their eldest's sex life.
Rose picked at her meal, turning to her sister. "I wish you a fruitful marriage, sister."
"Likewise," Anne replied, leaning over to grip her sister's hand tightly. "Oh, the wedding was wonderful. Mother, Father, I thank you both."
Francis grinned. "Only the best for my daughters," he replied, raising his cup in their honour. "I hear we're to expecting gifts for years to come."
"You're welcome," Anne said with a giggle. "We will be leaving for our honeymoon tour at the end of the week."
"We have prepared the grandest of bedchambers for our new queen," Queen Agnes said boastfully. "After you return from your tour, you will be settled into your new home."
Mary bit her lip, staring at her daughter fondly. Since the day she gave birth to her, Anne has always been a blessing in her life and now, she is a queen herself and a wife.
She looked up when Robin entered and bowed before showing Francis the final arrangements for their trip to England for Elizabeth's funeral. Claude would be coming, apparently becoming good friends with the former Queen of England and Elizabeth had been named Lawrence's godmother.
"...and there will be an English envoy to greet us there," Robin finished lowly before Francis nodded and thanked him. The boy bowed once again to the diners and left, the book tucked under his arm firmly.
"I apologise for your cousin's death," Queen Agnes said kindly. "Please, accept some black velvet to wear to the funeral. I had it sourced for a dress of mine after a distant relative died back in Sweden and I planned to attend their funeral but, it would do me well to see you have it instead."
Mary blushed, sharing a smile with her husband. "We love to accept your gift."
Their outfits will have the Valois, Stuart and Tudor crests on it, signifying the union between the three counties and the end to the Tudor dynasty in Elizabeth Tudor.
Mary didn't quite know how she felt. She had to plan for the future - the seat of regent. With the Beatons back as regents in Scotland following her brother's death, Mary had no idea who else to trust. Someone English too. She could suggest Bash but neither he nor her husband would approve. Especially Kenna as well. Frenchmen didn't do well in England. It had to be a Scot.
Swallowing a gulp of her wine, she excused herself, pressing a kiss on Francis's hand and brushing her hand against her daughters' backs and James', she left the room.
She had not grieved Elizabeth's death. They had been at war for most of their childhood lives and now in their adult lives, they had grown stronger and trusting, their bond and their families united. It would never be the same for the Valoises and Bourbons, and everyone didn't mind that but it didn't let Mary forget that the Tudors and Bourbons had been in alliance once. How everything had changed so much!
Where Francis was a king of war, Mary was a queen of peace. He had seldom called her weak, not out of spite or bitterly but to remind her that she was a queen and everyone else was beneath her, even other queens and kings. His weakness was used as a strength, her weakness seldom got them into trouble.
Shaking her head from her thoughts, she smiled when she saw her youngest children playing with their cousins before Kenna scolded the boys for being too rough with the babies.
Both Little Cat and Sophia were the best of friends, Little Cat a month older than her cousin and Mary wondered if she and Elizabeth had started off that way, they would be so against each other come the following years. She can't dwell on the 'what ifs'. The present was now.
Anne was Queen Marie of Sweden.
Rose was Lady Lennox and Dauphine of Scotland.
"Boys and Anastasia," she called out, hurrying to them. "Let's go play hide and seek!"
And she quite loved being so.
"Before you go," Claude started, pouring Francis a full cup nervously. "I'd love to invite you and Mary to my wedding."
Francis's eyes widened as a smile graced his features. "You and Bayard are finally getting married?"
"Well, you're alive and kicking aren't you?" Claude retorted, making him laugh and stand from his desk.
"Yes, yes I am!" He said, rounding the desk to hug her tightly. "It's been a year."
She sighed heavily, nodding against his shoulder. "I know but I still worry... We all do."
"Well, banish those thoughts," Francis said, pulling away and cupping her cheeks. "When is the wedding?"
"Tomorrow, I've invited everyone. Just friends and family," she said, her eyes focusing on her feet.
"What is it?"
She met his eyes. "Am I doing the right thing?"
Francis frowned. "What do you mean?"
She left his hold, going over to the window to see Leith playing with Lawrence outside. "I don't want to force Leith to marry me for life. What if I can't make him happy after all?"
Francis joined his sister by the window, smiling when Leith pretended to fall as Lawrence jumped on him with his fake sword. "He loves you and Lawrence as if you're his own. Even Lady Castleroy came to sing his praises regarding you and your son. You shall want for nothing with Leith, I promise you."
Claude leaned into his chest and he wrapped an arm around her. "My love life has been... quite the journey."
"From brothers to older men and priests..."
She laughed wryly. "I didn't say it was perfect," she said lightly. "But I wouldn't change it if it meant I got him."
"Good," Francis said.
"After everything," Claude began, turning to face him. "Mary leaving you for Condé, France falling into the Bourbon's hands, the war against the Spanish... You and Mary fought to be together and you succeeded every time. I hope to be just as determined in my marriage as you both are in yours."
"And you will be, Claude," Francis assured her. "Because you've always been a defiant person. And we're proud of you."
Claude's eyes sprung with tears and she hugged him tightly again, the sound of her son's and fiancé's laughter ringing in her ears.
"Monsieur et Madame Bayard," Mary swooned as the happy couple finally stopped dancing. "Do not worry about Lawrence during your honeymoon tour, Kenna will take good care of him."
"We trust her, it is the boy we don't trust," Leith replied lightly as his new wife slapped his chest. "Quite rambunctious! Like his mother."
Claude glared at him. "Leith!"
"Oh, some marital discord," Mary teased them. "I will be anywhere but here, away from the sexual tension."
"You're lucky you are a queen," was Claude's reply as Mary laughed and tittered over to her husband speaking with some French noblemen.
"...the price of grain is high, you ought to sell abroad. Germany, perhaps," one said.
Francis nodded distractedly. "Hmm. That would be wise, yes," he said before grinning at his wife when the men bowed at her appearance. "A dance, Your Majesty?"
"Why, yes, Your Majesty," she replied as Francis excused himself from the men and led his wife to the dancefloor. "Save you, did I?"
"Yes," he said in relief, rolling his eyes a little. "My ears will fall off."
She snorted, both of them going low before coming back up, her husband at her back as their hands joined above her right side and across her hip. "I will never get used to it."
"Neither will I," her husband replied, pressing a kiss on the back of her head. "I missed you."
"We saw each other in bed!" Mary cried out, incredulous.
Francis rolled his eyes again. "Yes, but meetings all day and well, you've been feeling down."
"I didn't know that my cousin's death would get to me this much," she admitted meekly. "She needs to be buried somewhere of importance. Maybe where her mother, Anne Boleyn, was buried."
Francis raised his brows. "That would look like we're supporting Protestants."
"Well, Lutherans, Huguenots and Reformists alike are on their best behaviours," his wife replied.
Francis coughed a little. "I can't vouch for the first one and we both know the last one is anything but. But the Huguenots know that I do not tolerate religious discord. Not now, not tomorrow, not ever."
"Hmm," Mary hummed. When their dance ended and they left the dancefloor, she said, "I have an idea for the regency seat."
Francis furrowed his brows. "Who?"
"A half-Scots, half-Frenchman." She looked over at Claude and Leith, her husband's eyes drawing over there too. "Leith Bayard. A neutral party."
"The English do like him after all of his war efforts..."
"And we need to act fast," Mary told him, turning to him now. "With Leith, Claude and Lawrence coming with us to the funeral, they can set up a life there and be happy with someone we trust taking care of things. He can do it. Even Claude has redeeming features."
Francis nodded firmly. "Very well," he said. "Let us announce to them of their new roles."
The funeral was a sombre affair. Rose held her own, keeping her netted face held up and high as queen would. She would one day be the Queen of Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales. She would be untouchable and she needed to act as such as she stood beside her parents with Robin on her other side, Aunt Claude and Uncle Leith nearby as Leith was the new Regent of England.
The wake was just as sombre and Mary conversed and got to know many other English nobles as Francis took Rose away with Robin and informed his daughter of her future duties one day with Leith following behind and Claude excusing herself to tend to her son.
"We should stay for two weeks," Francis told his wife when they finally met each other at the drinks table. "Cool tensions with their new regent."
"That is wise," Mary mumbled, sipping her cup. "Although the longer we are here, the longer I worry about Darnley arriving and doing us harm."
"If he tries, we have armies at the ready," Francis informed her much to her surprise. "Did you really think I wouldn't take precautions?"
Mary blinked once and bowed her head a little. "Do you think he would act so reckless to come for us at a funeral?"
"We are 'weakened' aren't we? Funerals are never fun affairs," her husband reminded her gently. "Once he aligned himself with Elizabeth, now she's dead, he has no control over England if he had any. We all know Elizabeth was loyal to us."
Mary sighed, shaking her head a little. "I have an uncomfortable feeling deep in my stomach," she told him. "Two weeks is too much, one at best."
"Mary, we have England's armies, Scotland's armies, Ireland's men, Wale's men and France's men at our beck and call. If that isn't enough for you, the Netherlands are sailing as we speak to ensure law and order in England and Scotland."
"Must you make decisions without my knowing?" She asked, strained.
"I didn't want to worry you, you were grieving and I would have told you eventually," he replied, kissing her.
Mary sighed. "Send word to the French forces to remain in France. We needn't so many forces should anything happen. We already have one hundred men with us and we will leave twenty for Leith, Claude and our nephew."
Francis nodded. "Very well," he said before nodding at his guard. "Mary, do not fret, everything will be alright." He kissed her forehead and joined his guard as they walked out, black cloaks and suit jackets flowing behind them in their hastiness.
Mary swallowed hard. "I hope," she whispered.